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Updated on December 10, 2022
6 min read

Inpatient Drug Rehab

What is an Inpatient Drug Rehab Program?

Inpatient rehab is a type of intensive treatment for substance addiction. It can be provided in two different settings. 

The first option is in a section of an acute care facility or hospital. This treatment is best for severe cases of addiction.

The second, residential care, provides accomodations and basic nursing support. This option isn’t designed to treat or manage severe medical problems, which occurs in 5% of withdrawal cases.

In inpatient rehab:1

  • People live at the facility for the duration of their treatment.
  • Services are provided in a 24-hour, often highly structured setting. These include medication management, recovery skills, and relapse prevention. 
  • The management team usually includes doctors, addiction specialists, counselors, social workers, and clinical staff.  
  • Intensity of treatment can vary.

Rehab facilities differ in amenities. Some provide basic accommodation like shared rooms and cafeteria-style meals. Others offer luxury services like private suites, gourmet meals, and amenities such as private pools or tennis courts.

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Benefits of Inpatient Drug Rehab

Inpatient treatment provides the following benefits: 

  • Medical and nutritional support: Medical professionals ensure people are safe and comfortable during detox and addiction treatment. Nutrition specialists help people with special dietary needs.
  • Structured setting: The organized environment helps people focus on recovery. There are no triggers or negative influences to encourage drug use. 
  • Sense of community: Support groups facilitate relationships among people with similar experiences. They help and encourage each other to change negative behaviors.
  • Aftercare: Medical professionals provide necessary tools and support for people to live a healthy life after leaving inpatient rehab. 

Is Inpatient Rehab For You?

Inpatient treatment might work for you if you meet one or more of the following criteria:2, 3

  • Severe level of addiction
  • Addiction to multiple drugs
  • Co-occurring depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
  • High risk of withdrawal
  • History of relapse
  • No healthy or supportive home environment or relationships for recovery
  • Tried less intensive treatment but failed to achieve abstinence 

No single alcohol/drug addiction treatment plan works for everyone. While one option may work for one person, it may not work for another.

Doctors or addiction specialists can help you choose the best addiction treatment through an evaluation. They may ask about:2, 3

  • History of drug use, treatment, and relapse
  • Co-occurring medical or mental health conditions
  • Financial, living, and personal situations
  • Outlook and attitude (like motivation to change)
  • Available support from family and friends

If someone struggles with severe addiction, co-occurring conditions, no social support, unstable housing, and/or no access to transportation, the evaluator will likely recommend inpatient rehab. 

If they don’t meet inpatient treatment criteria, the evaluator may recommend outpatient treatment.1, 4 

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Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab

In inpatient rehab, people: 

  • Live in the treatment center
  • May have to leave their job or school or need to ask someone to look after their family
  • Pay more than with outpatient rehab
  • Stay for a shorter duration, which is 30 days minimum

In outpatient rehab, people: 

  • Are not required to live in the treatment center (they go home after treatment)
  • Can maintain their daily routines and don’t have to leave their job or school
  • Pay less than with inpatient rehab 
  • Attend outpatient sessions that usually last up to 9 hours a week

What to Expect During Inpatient Rehab

Here are some things to expect when you enter inpatient treatment:

Medical Screening

This process occurs on the first day. It usually takes a few hours. 

It also includes an interview. This is crucial so that medical professionals at the inpatient rehab center can design your treatment plan.5


During detoxification (detox), the body gets rid of drugs. 

You’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms during this stage. Your body has become used to drugs, so it must adjust to their absence. Withdrawal symptoms often include nausea, hallucinations, and seizures, among others.

Staff and medical professionals at the facility will help you endure detox safely and comfortably. 

In some cases of withdrawal management, medical professionals prescribe medications and supplements, including:4, 6, 7, 8

  • Naltrexone, methadone, buprenorphine, lofexidine, and clonidine (for opioids)
  • Diazepam (for benzodiazepine, meth, and cocaine)
  • B vitamins and vitamin C

Structured Rehab Care

After detox, you’ll move into structured rehab care. This stage is less intensive, but the setting is still structured.4, 6, 9

Expect to not have much control over your schedule when you enter inpatient rehab. You may find this challenging, but sticking to a rigid schedule helps you focus and stay on track. 

Your daily routine will usually consist of therapy, counseling sessions, medical treatments, and other activities.  

After Inpatient Addiction Treatment

You’ll proceed to outpatient treatment after you leave inpatient rehab. 

You can attend support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA), or others. You can also continue meeting with a counselor.5

High Cost of Addiction Treatment

Inpatient treatment is more expensive than any outpatient treatment. Various factors influence the cost. These include the facility’s location, amenities, and the duration of treatment.  

Some inpatient drug rehab centers accept insurance. Check with your insurance provider about inpatient rehab coverage.

There are other options like Medicaid, Medicare, private financing, and state-funded rehab for those without insurance,

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How Long is Inpatient Rehab?

It depends. The typical durations are 30, 60, or 90 days

Certain people need to spend more time in rehab. This includes people who have:  

  • Severe addictions
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Undergone addiction treatment in the past 

There are different types off residential treatments, including:4, 6

  • Therapeutic communities (TC): People reside in the facility for 6 to 12 months. Both residents and staff act as agents of change. Residents follow a highly structured schedule consisting of counseling, chores, exercise, and other activities.10 
  • Short-term residential treatment: This is brief but involves a more intensive program. It consists of 3 to 6 weeks of hospital-based treatment followed by a modified 12-step program.9
  • Recovery housing: This involves supervised, short-term housing that follows other residential treatments. It aims to help people smoothly transition to independent living. Staff teach essential life skills like managing finances and securing a job. 

How to Find the Right Rehab Program

Call your insurance provider to help you find an inpatient treatment center. Also check the directories of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

When checking out inpatient treatment centers, ask the following questions: 

  • What types of drug addictions does the program treat?  
  • What medication assisted treatment does the program offer for withdrawal? 
  • What peer group programs does the program offer?
  • Does the facility provide treatment for co-occurring disorders?
  • Does the facility have aftercare and sober-living options?
  • What qualifications do the staff and health professionals have? 
  • Is the rehab facility licensed and accredited? 
  • How much does inpatient addiction treatment cost? 
  • What are the payment options (insurance and non-insurance)? 
  • What are the facility’s expectations regarding their residents (like phone use, personal belongings, and family visits)?
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Updated on December 10, 2022
11 sources cited
Updated on December 10, 2022
  1. Overview of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Care Clinical Guidelines: A Resource for States Developing SUD Delivery System Reforms.Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program (IAP). April 2017. 
  2. Treatment Settings.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). January 2014.
  3. Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). August 2018.
  4. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). January 2018. 
  5. 1 Overview, Essential Concepts, and Definitions in Detoxification.Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45.) 
  6. Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). January 2019.
  7. Hayashida, Motoi. “An overview of outpatient and inpatient detoxification.Alcohol health and research world vol. 22,1 : 44-6.
  8. 4, Withdrawal Management.Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 
  9. Types of Treatment Programs.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). January 2018.
  10. Kowalchuk, Alice, and Brian Reed. “Therapeutic Community.” Textbook of Family Medicine (Eighth Edition). 2012.
  11. Find Treatment.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). January 18, 2022.

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